13 of the Scariest Haunted Houses in America

As Halloween season quickly approaches, thoughts turn to the supernatural, the undead, and the downright creepy. But, really, regardless of the season, is there anything scarier than a haunted house?

From coast to coast, homes that boast a little paranormal activity abound, attracting curious ghost-hunters who hope to catch a glimpse of someone or something from the great beyond.

There’s still time to plan a spooktacular road trip. Let’s take a look at some of the most legendary haunted houses you may want to check out this season. Read on if you dare.

1. Amityville Horror House

What took place inside this Long Island estate is so chilling, it inspired a book and multiple films. In 1974, six members of the DeFeo family were found shot to death inside this stately home. Ronald DeFeo Jr., 23 at the time of the brutal killings, was later convicted of murdering his parents and four siblings.

Though the home sold a year after the grisly killings, the new owners quickly moved out citing unusual odors, sudden, unexplainable cold drafts, and a ghost that appeared to be half-demon-half pig.

But despite all that bloody history, the five-bedroom waterfront home has had numerous owners since. It was back on the market in 2016, listed at $850, but sold in February of 2017 for $605,000.

2. Myrtles Plantation

This otherwise-attractive plantation in St. Francisville, Louisiana is considered to be “one of the most haunted houses in America.” Since it was built in 1797, the sprawling southern estate has been home to multiple owners as well as countless deaths and murders.

Today, visitors have an opportunity to take a day or evening tour, or even stay over at the bed and breakfast for a chance to sample a side of the occult with their coffee and pastries. Legend has it that in addition to ghost sightings, a grand piano has been known to play sans musician, and furniture has rearranged itself. Definitely intriguing.

3. The Joshua Ward House

Located in Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most haunted locales in the United States, the Joshua Ward House has earned a reputation for inhabiting the spirit of none other than George Corwin, the High Sheriff during the Salem Witch Trials. Corwin, aka “the Strangler,” is said to be responsible for the gruesome killings of more than a dozen men and women he suspected of practicing witchcraft. Legend has it, Corwin’s body was buried in the basement of the three-story Federal style brick house.

Visitors say Corwin and the ghost of one of the warlocks he killed at this location haunt this home.

4. The LaLaurie House

New Orleans’ French Quarter is home to the LaLaurie Mansion, where a socially prominent couple, Dr. Louis and Delphine LaLaurie, lived with their daughters during the 1830s. It was inside this three-story Creole mansion that Delphine reportedly tortured slaves, causing one to jump to her death.

The house, which was owned by actor Nicolas Cage from 2007 to 2009, is said to be haunted by screams of terror emanating from the ghosts of Delphine’s slaves.

If this tale sounds familiar it may be because it was popularized in the TV show “American Horror Story: Coven.”

5. The Lemp Mansion

Life magazine named the St. Louis-based Lemp Mansion one of the America’s most haunted houses in 1980. Built in the 1860s, it was the home of brewing magnates who had a history of suicide in the family. In fact, three are said to have died inside the home, which currently houses a restaurant where murder mystery dinner theater takes place. Paranormal tours are offered as well.

6. Franklin Castle

This Queen Anne-style Victorian is known as the most haunted home in Ohio. While he lived there, Hans Tiedermann, a German immigrant, lost multiple children under mysterious circumstances. Despite the charm of the exterior, the Cleveland-based home is said to be filled with spirits.

7. The Lizzie Borden House

Located in Falls River, Massachusetts, the Lizzie Borden house is where, in 1892, Borden was believed to have murdered her father and step-mother with an axe in their home. Though she was acquitted, Borden was never able to shake her reputation as a cold-blooded killer.

Those who are brave enough can visit this home, now a bed and breakfast, and stay in the room where the couple slept or the room where Borden’s step-mother was found after the grisly murder.

8. The Kreischer Mansion

By Thomas Altfather Good (Original Work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This Staten Island, New York home has been the site of multiple deaths, including a suicide and a murder. The otherwise-charming Victorian is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who died within its confines. Despite its history, the home, set on five acres, was listed at $9.5 million in 2016. Ghosts included.

9. The Logan Inn

This Bucks County, Pennsylvania inn reportedly receives frequent visits from its most famous ghost, Emily, the daughter of a previous owner, who lived in room 6 and died in that very room as well.

Capitalizing on its haunted history, the inn hosts monthly dinners featuring a medium who delivers messages from beyond. Intrepid guests can spend the weekend and even sleep in room 6 where visitors have noted the scent of smoke, which could be attributed to the military men who once stayed there during the 1700s, and flowers, a favorite decoration of Emily’s.

10. Winchester Mystery House

Filled with dark passages and spider web windows, this home in San Jose, California has had millions of visitors pass through its spooky hallways. Guests can take part in a Friday the 13th flashlight tour or a Halloween candlelight tour and see if they discover any of the phenomenons that have made the house infamous with mystery lovers and fans of unique architecture alike.

11. The Whaley House

This Old Town San Diego-based home is said to be among the most haunted in the U.S. as it’s the site where a northern criminal named Jim Robinson was hanged. To this day, he’s said to haunt the home, which you can tour — if you’re feeling brave.

12. The Octagon Museum

Known for its innovative architecture and beautiful but haunted spiral staircase, the Octagon Museum in Washington D.C. is said to be haunted by at least two ghosts. One is believed to be Dolly Madison, while the other is the daughter of a colonel who fought with her father about her love for a British soldier and fell to her death in that famous staircase.

13. Culbertson Mansion

Located in New Albany, Indiana, this stunning mansion will have you swooning over that Mansard roof, but what lurks inside? Well, for starters, there’s occupied coffin in the cellar. Creeped out yet? Even scarier, lightening struck the property’s carriage house in the 1880s, killing everyone inside. Those who lost their lives are said to haunt the place ever since.

Brave souls who aren’t frightened by ghosts can rent the space for balls or even tea parties. Or, simply take a tour and revel in the architecture and perhaps the supernatural.

Something You Should Know Before Looking At A New Construction Model Home

Picture yourself out for a drive one weekend. You see a sign that says:

New Construction Homes!
Models Starting At $XXX,XXX
Next Right!

Maybe you’re actively looking for a house, or maybe it’s just a spur of the moment urge, but you follow the signs to the model home.

You park.

You walk into the model home.

The builder’s sales rep asks you to please sign in.

You sign in.

Ouch. You may have just made a costly mistake…

It’s Not Like I’m Buying One…

Most people don’t think twice about signing in when they visit a model home. They figure, what’s the harm? It isn’t like I’m signing something to actually buy one. I just want to take a look, and it’s not like they’re asking me to sign my life away.

But sometimes you do end up buying one.

You get the bug. You fall in love. You picture yourself in this lifestyle. Next thing you know, you’re making an offer on the spot.

Or, maybe you leave, but you can’t stop thinking about it the whole ride home so you decide you’re going to buy one.

Either way, if you decide to buy one, having signed in with the builder, you may have signed away your right to involve your own real estate agent represent and advise you.

Is A Real Estate Agent Even Necessary?!

Some people question whether it’s even necessary to have their own real estate agent involved in the purchase. They feel like they’re an unnecessary middleman. After all, the builder has a sales rep. They feel like they “found” the house, not a real estate agent. The builder or their representative can handle the paperwork. And, ideally, not having an agent will perhaps give them some leverage to negotiate.

Others just don’t even think to bring their real estate agent with them or didn’t want to “bug” them to go see a house they could easily get in to see. They just stop in on a whim, and once the ball gets rolling, they feel like they can’t involve their agent, or they might even be “encouraged” by the builder not to. And they figure, what’s the big deal… the builder or their rep can handle everything.

And some people feel like real estate agents just want to latch onto the deal to make a commission, while doing very little, since the builder and / or their rep can handle the paperwork and process.

It’s More Than Just “Finding” And Pushing Papers…

Sure, a buyer can “find” a new construction house on their own. And a builder or their sales rep can certainly handle the paperwork.

But the value of having a real estate agent on your side isn’t just about “finding” you a house (new construction or not), or filling in a few blanks on a contract and pushing the papers through the process. It’s about their knowledge, advice, and representation.

Okay, some agents out there may just want to get a few papers signed and wait for closing day to get a commission check. And, yes, you’re probably better off not involving an agent like that in the purchase of new construction.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find and have an agent who truly understands new construction (and real estate overall) on your side.

A good agent can help you:

  • Avoid costly mistakes
  • Get everything you can and should get from the builder
  • Advise you as to whether buying a particular home is the best or right choice for you
  • Offer alternatives you may not have otherwise considered
  • Help you choose the best lot and model in a development for your own enjoyment and future resale value
  • Keep the builder and building process in check
  • Advocate for you when issues arise with the builder

Things To Know And Look Out For

There are quite a few things to know and look out for when buying new construction — more than I can cover in a brief article. So, I created a booklet that you can download and read at your leisure, rather than in one sitting before you scroll away.

It’s free and there’s no obligation. And, even though it’s more detailed and longer than this article, covering more than a dozen topics, it isn’t a long read. You can breeze through it over a medium sized cup of coffee.

Just fill in your information below, and I’ll get a copy to you right away!

Staging a Home to Sell

If you’re getting ready to put your home on the market, you might think all you need to do is get organized and show your home as is.

But if you want to sell your home, you should definitely consider staging.

Home staging, which involves redecorating a property to remove personal effects and make it more appealing to buyers, can have a huge effect on your ability to sell your home. According to the Profile of Home Staging Report from the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 77% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for buyers to visualize a property as their future home.

If you can’t afford to stage your entire home, try staging the rooms that will have the most impact on potential buyers. According to the report, the most important rooms to stage for buyers are the living room (55%), the master bedroom (51%), and the kitchen (41%). And even if you only stage a few rooms in your home, it’s going to give you an edge over the competition. The report indicates that only 25% of sellers pay to have their house professionally staged.

The Takeaway

If you’re serious about selling your home, you should also get serious about staging. Staging helps potential buyers picture themselves living in your home—and the easier it is for potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home, the more likely they are to make an offer.

Do fresh cookies sell a home???

True or false…

When you’re selling a house, you should bake cookies before a showing or an open house.

I guess you could say the answer is a hard and fast “true” because, after all, it can’t hurt. Who doesn’t like the smell of freshly baked cookies?

But it’s also kind of false…

It isn’t like you can Betty Crocker your way to a sale, let alone at the highest price possible. Your entire house still needs to be appealing. A batch of cookies isn’t going to hide bad odors enough or divert people’s attention from a messy house that needs repairs.

If only it were that simple…

Picture (and smell) this — a buyer shows up to a house and the homeowner has:

  • Two dogs laying on the sofa (wet from being in the rain).
  • Five cats roaming around. They share one unclean litter box and use every piece of furniture as scratching posts.
  • A well-used ashtray in each room.
  • A teenage son who has a pile of gym clothes under his bed.
  • A freshly-baked batch of cookies on the table with a sign that says “Enjoy a warm cookie while enjoying our house!”

Think the buyer’s gonna want to grab a cookie, let alone buy the house? Nope. There’s more of a chance their son will figure out how to do his own laundry.

You’d think that’s far-fetched, but we real estate agents and our buyers actually walk into houses not too far from this reality.

The one smell that does sell…

Cookies won’t cut it. Nor will a cookie-scented candle. (Or any other candle scent for that matter.)

Pro tip: Some candles can actually turn a buyer off. Even if someone likes the smell of a particular candle, it may trigger curiosity about what the owner is trying to hide.

However, there is one smell that will help your house sell…

It’s called “clean.” But you can’t get it in a store, online, or from a late night TV infomercial. You can get the products that’ll get your house smelling clean from any of those places… but there’s no substitute for a good, thorough cleaning to create an aroma that will appeal to any and all buyers.

Whether you do it on your own, or hire a professional cleaning service, giving your house a good deep cleaning before (and while) your house is on the market is one of the most important things you can do.

That doesn’t mean it should smell like ammonia or “Spring Breeze” cleaning solution. It should smell like nothing, actually. Or at as close to it as possible.

Obviously there’s more to it than that

A clean (and clean smelling) house is a good start, but there’s more to think about when preparing your house for sale.

Lots of homeowners do very little to prepare their house for sale, yet they expect their house sell quickly and for top dollar.

On the other hand, some homeowners go bonkers and do way more than they have to, or even should, to prepare their house for sale. These folks end up spending more time or money than they’ll receive in return.

The bottom line:

There’s a fine line between not preparing your house enough… and preparing your house too much. Always seek a trusted real estate professional’s advice on preparing your house just the right amount.

Real Estate – Best Investment!

The results are in: the best long-term investment you can make? Real Estate.

Each year, Gallup surveys Americans to find out what they believe to be the best investment options for building long-term wealth. And in their most recent survey, Americans overwhelmingly chose real estate, making this the fifth year in a row real estate tops the list.

Thirty-four percent of Americans surveyed chose real estate as the best long-term investment option for building wealth, which is nearly ten percentage points ahead of the next investment choice on the list, stocks (which came in at 26%).

The results of the Gallup survey, and the fact that real estate has been chosen as Americans’ top investment choice for five years running, is a clear indicator that faith in the real estate market has bounced back since the Great Recession (when gold was a much more popular investment option).

The Takeaway

With consumer confidence clearly indicating stability in the market, there’s never been a better time to purchase a home—and make a long-term investment in your future.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Buy A Home?

One question that pops up constantly from both first-time and seasoned homeowners alike is “When is the best time of year to buy a home?” Potential homeowners want to know the best time of year to get the best home for the lowest price – and ideally, at a time that makes sense for their life.

It would be great if there were a simple and straightforward answer, like “the best time of year to purchase a home is between April 1 and April 7.” But unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Let’s take a look at the factors that play into answering the question “when is the best time of year to buy a home?”

Convenience

The first factor to consider when buying a home is convenience. This is particularly important if you have a family.

If you have school-aged children, you ideally want to move in between school years, so sometime between May and August. Pulling a child out of school in the middle of the year can be challenging, and children might have a hard time to adjusting to a new school in the middle of the year.

However, because so many potential homeowners have families that want to move during this time period, it drives up the prices, making the summer the most expensive time a year to buy a home.

So, if your main concern is convenience for your family, then summer is a good time to buy – just be prepared to pay a higher price than you would at other times of year.

Inventory

If your top priority is having a lot of houses to choose from, you’ll want to buy a house during the time of year when the most homes are on the market. That way, you’ll have your pick of multiple properties and are much more likely to find a home that has all the items on your wish list.

In most areas, the highest inventory peaks in the spring, right before the end of the school year. Inventory stays high throughout the summer and then starts to fall in early autumn, with the lowest inventory happening in late autumn and winter.

If you want a variety of homes to choose from, look to buy in the spring.

Price

If your main goal is to get an amazing home at a low price, the best time of year to buy is when competition is low. When there aren’t as many people looking to buy, it drives down the prices of homes, and you can purchase property at a significantly lower rate. On average, homes cost 8.45% less in January and February than they do in June, July, and August.

If you were looking at purchasing a $500,000 property, that would bring the price down $42,250 for a sale price of $457,750. That kind of price drop could save you a significant amount of money over the course of your mortgage and lower your monthly payments.

If you’re looking to get the most house for your money, purchasing a home in the winter is definitely your best bet.

The best time of year to buy a home is largely dependent on your needs and priorities. If you’re looking to buy at a time that’s most convenient for your family (and in particular, your children), buying during the summer is a great option. If you want to see as many homes as possible in order to find a property that has everything you’re looking for in a home, you’ll want to buy a home in the spring, when inventory is at its highest. And if your bottom line is you want to pay the lowest price possible, purchasing a home in the winter, when prices are significantly lower, will be the most advantageous.

Just keep in mind that finding and purchasing a home takes time; while it happens, the chances of finding a property during the first week of looking for a home are slim. On average, people spend 30 – 60 days looking for a home and another 14 – 60 days from contract to close, so make sure to give yourself plenty of lead time to take advantage of the time of year that’s best for YOU to purchase.

Top criteria for buyers – Sellers take note!

When you’re getting ready to list your home, you want to make sure any changes or renovations are going to give you a return on your investment by making your home more appealing to potential buyers. But what, exactly, are the things buyers are looking for?

According to Zillow’s 2017 Consumer Housing Trends Report, there are a few clear winners when it comes to upgrading your home to make it more appealing to sellers. According to the report, 62% of buyers require a home has air conditioning before they make a purchase. And while the perfect kitchen and an energy efficient home aren’t exactly “needs” for most buyers, they do rank high on their list of “wants” (at 48% for both).

The Takeaway

If you’re thinking about making changes to your home in order to generate more interest from buyers, your money would be best spent installing central air. Improving your kitchen and making your home more energy efficient come in a close second.

Now is the time to buy!

If you’ve been on the fence about purchasing a home because you’re unsure of the market, it might be time for you to take a cue from the majority.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey, nearly 70% of Americans believe that now is a good time to purchase a home. This buyer confidence is likely due to a number of factors, but one of the main factors at play is likely the upcoming increase in available inventory. According to a recent report on new constructionfrom the US Census Bureau and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, builders completed new homes at a record rate in May 2018 (a seasonally adjusted rate of nearly 1.3 million) and approved another 1.3 million building permits—which means a ton of new inventory is about to flood the market, making it significantly easier for potential buyers to find and purchase homes.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been thinking about purchasing a home, it looks like it’s time to make a move and take advantage of what 70% of Americans believe to be a good time to purchase property.

Buying Activity Driven By Projected Mortgage Rates Increasing

The real estate industry has seen extremely low interest rates for quite some time, but all of that may be about to change, and it’s driving a massive increase in buying activity.

According to a recent report from Freddie Mac, interest rates on home loans are expected to jump an entire percentage point in 2018 (from 3.9% in Q4 of 2017 to 4.9% by Q4 of 2018). That jump can mean a mortgage payment that’s hundreds of dollars more per month—and tens of thousands more paid in interest over the course of the loan. And according to a recent article from the team at Realtor.com, the threat of rising interest rates is pushing a new stream of buyers into the market. According to the article, potential buyers who were “on the fence” about buying are now making purchases in order to lock in lower interest rates, creating even more competition and driving up prices.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been thinking about putting your home on the market, now is the time to do it. With historically low inventory and a new rush of buyers into the market, there has never been better conditions to get the most value from your home sale.